Archive for the ‘Adoption’ Category
Grateful, lucky, stronger, joyous…
Read this post from author Christopher Thangaraj as he reflects on the wondrous and rewarding journey of adopting and raising his two beautiful sons with his husband:
Your Kids Are So Lucky to Have Such Wonderful Parents!
by Christopher Thangaraj
For more than thirty years, Adoption Choices has been helping birth parents and adoptive families successfully manage the adoption process. With extensive experience in international and domestic adoption, as well as experience in special needs, interracial and LGBT adoption, we are your resource for expert adoption information.
Read this article from one mom who reflects on the joys and challenges of meeting the needs of her adopted daughter:
What I Know About Motherhood Now That I Am an Adoptive Mother
By Carrie Goldman
Financial aid scholarships may be available to qualified adoptive parents, couples and families through the Fran Goss Adoption Fund. Thanks to the generosity of private donors, the Fund provides fee reduction assistance to families of modest means who would otherwise be unable to adopt.
For over thirty years, Adoption Choices has been helping birth and adoptive parents understand their options so they can make informed decisions that best meet their needs. Adoption Choices is a licensed, non-profit, non-sectarian program that provides a wide range of adoption services to individuals, couples and families throughout Massachusetts. We work with prospective adoptive parents from all backgrounds and have extensive experience in domestic and international adoption, as well as experience in interracial, LGBTQ and special needs adoptions.
Those interested in adopting and would like to apply for financial aid may start the process by contacting Adoption Choices and speaking with the program’s Coordinator, Dale Eldridge, LICSW, BCD. The initial consultation is free.
Applicants are assessed for adoptive suitability and fee reduction eligibility is determined using a sliding fee scale. Those
approved for financial aid may qualify for up to 90% of agency-related fees.
Vanessa McGrady’s posting, The Birth Parents Move in, in the New York Times Motherlode Blog, both broke my heart and cracked me up. As I sat at my computer (ok, maybe I was in the loo looking at my iphone, it was 2 weeks ago, I can’t remember) reading the posting, I recognized myself in her writing. I voiced an inner “oh god” reading the first paragraph where she loaded her child’s birth parents into her car to rescue them from homelessness, their rabbit cage and all. Oh god, that’s not a good idea, oh god, I could totally see myself doing that, oh god, my therapist would think all her work was for naught if I did that, oh god, my kids would be so excited if their birth families moved in, oh god, bunnies stink. Oh god, Ms. McGrady sure summed up the complexity of adoption in just a few short light-hearted paragraphs.
I can relate to Ms. McGrady’s desire to help her daughter’s birth parents, to swoop in and lift them up. I have felt this same tug when I hear of setbacks, or unexpected turns in the road, for my daughter’s birth family members. In the past I have helped on a few occasions, none that involved a bunny moving in, and sometimes it worked out well and other times; the assistance was awkwardly given and uncomfortably received. In our open adoptions, I often come up against the complexities of family, fairness, justice, opportunity, love, privilege, loss, power, judgment and suffering when I feel the urge to help, especially when it isn’t asked for. Our adoption constellation is complex and even a simple thing like lending a hand requires deep consideration and reflection. However, I have come to accept that the greatest help I can give my daughter’s birth parents is to love, care for, and raise my daughters well, to become kind, loving, healthy and happy women.
When we started the adoption process we were handed a checklist by someone, I honestly can’t remember who. It was either the social workers at our agency, or one of the other blurry people involved in our quest to become parents. I don’t exactly remember what the checklist said, but in my memory it was a basic list of character traits of children and family situations. Again, it’s all a blur, but in the way I tell our story, the checklist factors in a big way. I say “we didn’t check any boxes” when asked how our adoptions went so quickly. Although, I do recall saying I wanted a healthy infant. I wanted to experience as much of parenting as I could possibly, and for me that included all the joys of infanthood.
So I guess that means I checked off infant and healthy. I remember thinking that I was surely in this for the baby snuggles and sweet newborn gurgles. I definitely was not in it for the exhaustion of parenting a special needs child who would need to be dragged to numerous appointments, consuming our very identity as a family from normal adoptive family to a special needs adoptive family. That was not for me. I didn’t have saintly patience, bottomless understanding, and for @$#% sake, I was certainly not religious, nor did I have a mission to save a child. I wanted to be a mom, a normal mom, whose greatest worries were cloth or disposable diapers, mini-wagon or minivan, violin or piano lessons. Thankfully, I got all those worries figured out with ease; disposable, minivan, piano.
However, now I have many other worries; medication 5 times a day, annual Brain MRI’s, Kidney ultrasounds, EEG’s, EKG’s, 3 hour long eye exams, IEP’s and emergency medication that is always within reach. My youngest was four months old when my normal motherhood transformed into extra special motherhood in the blink of an eye. Well actually, it was over a month or so period and after some specialized testing, DNA samples, multiple visits to specialists and a hated phone call from the doctor (you know the call, the one you get that knocks you so hard out of denial and into reality that it physically hurts, and you cry a cry reserved for death and loss, but it’s coming out of you while you sit holding a basket of laundry, on the cold wooden staircase in your house, listening to your husband’s side of the conversation). That was it, I was now the mom of a special needs child, and life was now transformed from normal to special.
I really did struggle with accepting my new role and still do some days, but never did I struggle with accepting my daughter’s new role. I believe it was Raquel, one of our social workers, who said “kids are kids”, and that is so simply true. My daughter is still herself; with a bit extra that most of us will never have (thankfully). I am still her mom, with new worries, but no less terrifying than the ones I have for my “typical” child. And honestly, the greatest thing I have learned so far on this extra special journey is that we are all extraordinary in our own ways, we each have that something extra special that challenges us, but also brings us great joy and love.
“Do you think you’ll be able to love a kid that’s not yours?” “Do you ever wish you had a child of your own?” “Do you know who K’s real mother is?”
Questions like those once had tremendous power over me. They had the power to sting. They had the power to make me feel less than. But, they don’t have power any more. You see, I became a real mother over 15 years ago to a child who is every bit my own.
I was real when the delivery nurse placed a newborn baby in my arms. I was real when I walked out into the California sunshine with my girl. I was terrified, but I was real. I was real when relief rushed over me the next morning because M and I had managed to keep K alive for an entire day. Real, when the terror returned and I realized I had to keep her alive for every day of my life.
K was mine when nightmares sent her climbing into my bed because sleeping next to me was the only thing that made the bad dreams go away. She was mine each time she ran into my arms when I picked her up from school. She was mine when she held me after my mother died and said “Mommy, what will I do if you die?”
It’s been a long time since I thought about any of those questions. Why think about things that have no power? But last week, we spent two nights with K in the ER. She’s fine, thanks, but those were a couple of exhausting, scary nights. There were moments when I had to force myself not to cry. I had to listen to the doctors and pretend not to be afraid.
In the midst of it all, I heard that question from long ago – “Do you ever wish you had a child of your own?” And my mind repeated the answer that I’ve known for every day of K’s life – I have a child of my own and she is everything I ever wished for.
I was thinking about Dad today. Yes, Father’s Day is this weekend but that’s not what brought him to mind. It was actually a Mother’s Day memory that made me think of him. One Mother’s Day, my sisters and I had created a really special gift for Mom. We bought her a ceramic basket and placed maybe 100 small pieces of paper in it. On each piece of paper we wrote something special about her. We gave her the basket and we took turns reading each one aloud.
Dad listened attentively at first. They were great memories and let’s face it; it was a pretty thoughtful gift. I imagine he enjoyed the stories and was probably proud of his daughters for coming up with the idea (which I think we stole from a magazine but still). After a while though, he started interrupting us. “Hey, I was part of that too” or “There are two parents in this family” etc. Laughing, we kept telling him, “Dad, it’s not your basket.” He didn’t think it was nearly as funny as we did, but he finally stopped interrupting us and let us finish.
Of course when Father’s Day rolled around that year, we did something similar for him. After his reaction, we had to. If there was anyone Dad would play second fiddle to, it was definitely Mom. But overall, that position was not his favorite spot in the band.
Truth be told, maybe we gave Mom credit for more stuff than we should have. She was the gold standard of mothers so it was easy to do. There’s the physical stuff – we credit her for all the blue eyes in the family, but Dad’s eyes were blue too. I started wearing glasses in third grade so mine were certainly courtesy of Dad. And there’s the non-physical stuff – I think Dad gave my brothers their work ethic, my younger sister her strong sense of justice, and my older sister, her all around goodness. His sense of right and wrong was a force to be reckoned with, and he passed that on to all of us.
When I look at K, it is her birth mother to whom I give thanks. A’s choices brought K to us and I will never forget that. But yet… I don’t remember A having sapphire blue eyes. K’s eyes are unforgettable. If A’s were like that, I know I’d remember. And it’s not just the stunning blue color; it’s the sparkle behind them that’s remarkable. I wonder if those are a gift from her birth father. What about K’s ability to remember the directions to anywhere she’s ever been? Or her innate ability to reach out to someone who’s lonely or sad? Those may have come from him. I’ve just never really thought much about it before. Huh… It may not have been his basket but he was part of it too.
So, on this Father’s Day, I will remember all the wonderful fathers I have known, like I always do. But for the first time, I will remember a particular high school boy who is now a grown man. I will think of him, and I will thank him for whatever he gave that made my girl the incredible person she is.